Vietnamese Food Recipes

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Tofu Dessert in Ginger Syrup (Tau Hu Nuoc Duong) Recipe

Tàu hũ nước đường is a Vietnamese tofu dessert in ginger syrup. The texture of silken tofu is very similar to custard, but without the calories. I used store-bought silken tofu (see tips) and paired it with clementine ginger syrup. The early crop of clementines we harvested from our garden are not extremely sweet. They have a hint of tartness, which is just the way I like them! The zest is so fragrant I had to use it in this syrup.

I have made my own firm tofu before, which is quite easy, but I've always wanted to make silken tofu. After a few searches, I stumbled upon Wendy's beautiful Chinese food blog, where she shares her technique on how to make silken tofu, using Glucono-Delta-Lactone (GDL). I haven't tried her recipe yet, because I first have to find this ingredient. I can't wait to make my own silken tofu; I will definitely keep you posted.


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Bo Luc Lac Recipe: Vietnamese Beef Dish Recipe

I find thịt bò lúc lắc to be a fun-sounding dish. Thịt bò means beef meat in Vietnamese, but the rest of the name of this popular Vietnamese beef dish, "lúc lắc", translates to "shaking" and "moving back and forth".

This dish calls for very tender beef. I chose to use small cubes of sirloin beef; you could also use filet mignon. The meat is first immersed in a very traditional Vietnamese marinade, then tossed back and forth in a wok. The cooking time is fairly rapid, so it's perfect when you're looking for a quick and easy dinner menu item.

I served the cubed beef on a bed of lettuce, along with caramelized onions and sliced chile peppers. All you need to add is a bowl of steamed jasmine rice and a mixture of lime juice, salt and pepper (the typical dipping sauce that goes with every Vietnamese meal). Enjoy!


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Vietnamese Pickled Carrot and Daikon Recipe (Do Chua) Recipe

Pickled carrots and radishes are a very common condiment in Vietnamese cuisine. In Vietnamese, they're called "đô chua", which literally translates to "pickled stuff". The vegetables are soaked in a sweet and savory mixture made of white vinegar and sugar.

You've probably seen the popular condiment in bánh mì sandwiches (I'll post the recipe tomorrow), gơi gà (Vietnamese chicken salad) or spring rolls. Carrots and daikon are a must; today, I also added white onions, but you could combine any other root vegetables.

This recipe doesn't require any particular skill. All you need are basic ingredients and a little patience. Our family loves đô chua. So I always make sure we have some on hand. I prepare the vegetable pickles in advance, transfer them to a jar and store it in the refrigerator. You can keep the pickled veggies for up  to 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.


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Ca Nuc Kho (Traditional Vietnamese Whole Mackerel in Sugarcane Sauce) Recipe

Cá nục kho mía literally translates to "mackerel braised in sugarcane sauce". It's the fish traditionally served in  a Vietnamese claypot. The dark caramel ginger sauce is made from galangal and sugarcane juice (nước mía in Vietnamese).

Mackerel is high in Omega 3 oils but can have a strong fishy flavor. There are several steps that can be taken to ensure this dish is absolutely delicious. First, when you're at the market, make sure the fish is fresh; fresh mackerel shouldn't smell fishy. Look for clear-eyed fish with bright, shiny scales. The second step is to clean the inside of the fish thoroughly in several water baths and let the fish rest in a vinegary solution for a few minutes. The last part is to use a lot of shallots and galangal, which has a sharper, more aromatic flavor than ginger. It's slightly more expensive than ginger but it's well worth it.

I served the fish with steamed jasmine rice and sautéed rau muống (Vietnamese pea shoot tendrils) with fresh chestnuts and wood ear mushrooms.


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Bun Bo Hue Recipe (Hue-Style Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) Recipe

If you're familiar with phở, bún bò Huế is another beef rice noodle soup. The beef soup dish originated in the city of Huế, the old imperial capital of Vietnam. Like traditional phở bò, the broth of bún bò Huế is simmered with beef bones and Asian spices such as ginger, but the similarities pretty much end there. The real difference is that the broth is finished with lemongrass and red chiles.

I made a very basic soup with thinly sliced beef shanks, but some people are more adventurous and add pig knuckles, congealed pig blood called huyết (which I do not like), and serve shrimp paste on the side as a condiment. I garnished the soup with the commonly used bean sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro and raw sliced white onions, thinly sliced purple cabbage and shredded iceberg lettuce. Purple cabbage makes sense because it most closely resembles the texture of banana flowers, which are traditionally included in bún bò Huế. The taste is obviously different though.

Once the dish is prepared, everyone should roll up their sleeves and commence slurping down the bowl of beef broth in front of them. This is not a subtle dish; your taste buds will be bombarded with sweet, savory and spicy flavors. My mouth waters just thinking about it!


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